West VA Freedom Industries: Trying to Build a Safer America While Lobbyists Build an Unsafer America

Dear All,

When I came to Washington in 1966 I had my first encounter with a pollution lobbyist.

See film on Pollution and my comments at

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xd6I36UQWcc

Then think of the people of West VA and Americans everywhere who get their water from rivers.

Here’s to our health and safety.

Revolving Door Problem at DOT, NHTSA, and Other Regulatory Agencies Examined

Dear Care for Crash Victims Community Members:

The LA Times has looked at the Revolving Door problem and asked a most important question of life or death or disability or freedom from harm. “what’s the ordinary person to do?”

“Government can’t pay young staff members or even top officials enough to keep them from seeking higher salaries in the private sector. Only oversight by a Congress and president truly devoted to the public interest, not commercial interests, can keep regulatory agencies focused on the people’s business.

But when business gets its say on Capitol Hill and the White House too, what’s the ordinary person to do?”

http://www.latimes.com/business/la-fi-hiltzik-20140126,0,1425489.column#ixzz2rXH9c6sH

As shown in the 2011 crash death data below, there are many reasons each year for the people of LA as well as all Americans to be concerned with the Revolving Door at DOT & NHTSA.

We can and must do better protecting Americans from harm – deaths and serious injuries in crashes. These statistics are only crash deaths. In addition, there are about 4 serious crash injuries that occur for each crash death.

West VA Freedom Industries: Trying to Build a Safer America While Lobbyists Build an Unsafer America

Dear Care for Crash Victims Community Members:

Bloomberg reports:

“U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx said there’s no reason for General Motors Co. (GM) to pull cars affected by its ignition-switch recall off the road while waiting for new parts to be available.

Foxx said in a May 6 letter to lawmakers that he’s satisfied GM has limited safety risk by advising customers of precautions to take until their cars are repaired.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration examined the geometry and physics of the cars’ keys, ignition switches and steering columns, Foxx said. Regulators evaluated GM’s testing of cars driven with a single ignition key under different road conditions and believe they’re safe, he said.

“NHTSA is satisfied that for now, until the permanent remedy is applied, the safety risk posed by the defect in affected vehicles is sufficiently mitigated,” Foxx said in the letter to Senators Edward Markey of Massachusetts and Richard Blumenthal of Connecticut.”

Source: http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2014-05-07/no-need-to-park-gm-s-recalled-cars-foxx-tells-senators.html

This raises questions of who in NHTSA provided this advice? Was anyone at NHTSA involved that previously worked for GM or another auto company? Or reported to someone who previously did so? Or is hopeful of future corporate rewards? The evidence is growing that

NHTSA has been driving under the influence of GM since 2001.

See: http://www.careforcrashvictims.com/blog-lastdecade.php

When NHTSA won’t even issue a public safety advisory, what is the public to do? As Nader recently said about his new book “Unstoppable” politicians need to hear the rumble of the people.

Listen to his eloquent lecture at:

http://www.slate.com/articles/podcasts/live_at_politics/2014/05/ralph_nader_unstoppable_the_activist_discusses_his_new_book.html

The media has a role here to inform motorists to protect themselves, because, sadly, the present DOT NHTSA management won’t.

DRIVEN: A Book On Mothers Working To Prevent Deaths and Injuries in 15 Passenger Van Crashes

Dear Care for Crash Victims Community Members:

On January 12, 2008 there was a tragic crash of a 15 Passenger Van in Canada that resulted in the death of seven high school boys and the wife of the basketball coach who was driving the Van but survived.

We are approaching the 6th anniversary of that crash. Since then in the U.S. hundreds more occupants of 15 Passenger Vans have died. NHTSA counted 174 crash deaths of occupants of 15 Passenger Vans during the six years 2008 – 2010. Since 2010, perhaps another 150 crash deaths have occurred — but that data has not yet been published by NHTSA. On average one 15 Passenger crash death occurs every week in the U.S.

Uncounted by NHTSA are the serious injuries destructive to brains, spinal cords, faces, and limbs resulting in major life altering consequences to individuals and families.

DRIVEN, by Richard Foot, is a new and inspirational book about mothers who lost sons in crashes and who have been working for six years to prevent more such tragedies.

Do we need people to read this book? With each day, on average in the U.S., Americans in all crashes – not just 15 Passenger Vans – suffer about 100 crash deaths, 400 serious crash injuries, and $1 billion in losses. So the answer is Yes!

Do we need people worldwide, to recognize and value the love, stories, sorrows, works, and powers of mothers to prevent future tragedies? Yes!

How do we get people to read this book? Recommendations? Yes! Reviews? Yes! Interviews? Yes!

Book Awards? Prizes? Let’s hope so – for the sake of all of us.

Years of work by Mr. Foot, researching and delicately describing the heart breaking stories of these mothers deserves worldwide recognition. The tragedies and the struggles he describes took place in Canada involving 15 Passenger Van crashes, but the lessons are universal.

DRIVEN can help people understand the tragedies of crash victims – and we are all crash victims in so many ways.

DRIVEN can help people to act collaboratively to improve safety for all of us.

DRIVEN shows how others helped the mothers in their struggles — truly humanitarian stories of community collaboration that show what it takes to make safety progress.

The stories raise questions of why safety progress is such a struggle. Why would government officials not answer questions or act to protect? Why do corporate and government officials engage in efforts to Delay, Evade, Abstain from acting, and then Deny responsibility — as more die each and every year?

The tragedies these mothers experienced involved the deaths of their sons in crashes of 15 Passenger Vans. The problems of failures to protect have been going on for a long time. NHTSA data on 15 Passenger Van fatal crashes shows 1,759 fatalities from 1990 – 2010. See attached.

DRIVEN raises important questions:

    • How many more people must die or be tragically injured needlessly?
    • What will it take to move corporate and government officials to protect its citizens and product users?
    • What can we all do to help?

Disclosure: One of the Canadian mothers who lost a son in a 15 Passenger Van crash sent me a courtesy copy of the book DRIVEN.

We can and must help end such tragedies.

The mothers’ Van Angels group continues to provide an educational website to the public that monitors actions and inactions on the safety of 15 Passenger Vans. See www.vanangels.ca

Thank you to the mothers of Van Angels for their years of persistent efforts to build a safer system of transport.

Thank you to Mr. Richard Foot for years of reporting, research, and documentation of this heart touching story of safety work in DRIVEN.

May DRIVEN help us all do better.

Lou Lombardo

Additional resources available are:

60 Minutes II Video on 15-Passenger van rolloverhttp://vimeo.com/618459

My previous Blog on the Canadian safety efforts at

http://www.careforcrashvictims.com/update1-rollovercrash.php

Canadian documents at:

CCMTA Evaluation of 15-Passenger Vanshttp://ccmta.ca/images/publications/pdf//CCMTA_Evaluation_of_15-Passenger_Vans_2013_2_22_1138a.pdf CCMTA Evaluation of 15-Passenger Vans FAQshttp://ccmta.ca/images/pdf-documents-english/Evaluation_of_15-Passenger_Vans_-_FAQ.2.2013.pdf Safety Guidelines for the use of 15-Passenger Vanshttp://ccmta.ca/images/publications/pdf//15-passengers-vans-guidelines-english.pdf

Associated Documents:

Click on file names to download:

1 – PassengerVan15_1990_2010_C

2 – Traffic Safety Facts – May 2009

NHTSA Administrator Going Through the Revolving Door

Dear Care for Crash Victims Community Members:

As we watch this national spectacle, let’s consider the context and ask the needed questions on how to build a Safer America.

Background

Under President Obama Mr. David L. Strickland has been NHTSA Administrator for 4 years. Since President Obama was sworn in as President:

    • More than 132,250 Americans died of crash injuries in his first term in office – more than died in the entire Afghanistan, Iraq, Viet Nam, and Korean Wars combined..
    • An additional estimated 500,000 Americans suffered serious crash injuries.
    • Crash losses, using DOT values, now exceed a Trillion dollars.
    • Mr. Strickland knows this record from my emails and my petitions. And he has now chosen to leave NHTSA to become a lobbyist. I don’t yet know for which monied interests he will be lobbying. He recently returned from a globe trotting trip to India (as reported at a recent meeting organized by NHTSA).

Upon election in 2008, President Obama’s published an Ethics plan that addressed lobbying and the Revolving Door.

“Close the Revolving Door on Former and Future Employers: No political appointees in the Obama-Biden administration will be permitted to work on regulations or contracts directly and substantially related to their prior employer for two years. And no political appointee will be able to lobby the executive branch after leaving government service during the remainder of the administration.”

See http://change.gov/agenda/ethics_agenda/

Then see Executive Order 13490:

http://www.whitehouse.gov/the_press_office/Ethics-Commitments-By-Executive-Branch-Personnel

“I will not for a period of 2 years from the date of my appointment participate in any particular matter involving specific parties that is directly and substantially related to my former employer or former clients, including regulations and contracts.”

So will Mr. Strickland violate the letter or spirit of these ethics rules? Or will he confine himself just to lobbying the Congress for the next couple of years? Or will the President’s actions have no teeth? Or do these Harvard lawyers (Obama and Strickland) trained to make big money serving big monied interests know of loopholes that we, the little people, don’t yet know about?

How do we do a better job of getting appointees who will serve the public interest?

Venable Law Firm of Lobbyists

Strickland joins Venable LLP. See http://www.venable.com/

Venable’s Public Words on David Strickland

“January 8, 2014 NHTSA Administrator David L. Strickland to Join DC Regulatory Group Top DOT official and former Senate committee counsel, who oversaw increased environmental and safety standards at NHTSA, will join Venable’s highly rated group

Washington, DC (January 8, 2014) – Building on the strength of its Regulatory and Legislative practices, Venable LLP announced today that David L. Strickland, Administrator of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), will join the firm’s Washington, DC office as partner later this month.

Nominated by President Barack Obama and confirmed by the United States Senate, Mr. Strickland has served as NHTSA Administrator since 2010. Through his position as the country’s top automotive safety official, Mr. Strickland has overseen the development of the first national fuel efficiency program in conjunction with the Environmental Protection Agency, issued the first ever ejection mitigation standards for passenger vehicles to help keep passengers from being partially or fully ejected from vehicles during a rollover crash, and brought national attention to child passenger safety issues. While at NHTSA, Mr. Strickland oversaw a broad range of vehicle safety and policymaking programs including setting vehicle safety standards, investigating possible safety defects, and tracking safety-related recalls; establishing and enforcing regulations on fuel economy; investigating odometer fraud and publishing vehicle theft data. He has also been a leader in the campaign to prevent distracted driving.

Prior to his tenure as the NHTSA Administrator, Mr. Strickland spent eight years on the staff of the U.S. Senate Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation as Senior Counsel. Through this position he served as lead counsel for subcommittees overseeing the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC), NHTSA, and the Department of Commerce. Mr. Strickland provided legal and legislative advice to Members on a range of issues including insurance, antitrust, consumer protection and fraud prevention, internet privacy, tourism, consumer product safety and liability, passenger motor vehicle safety and fuel efficiency, and the U.S. Olympic Committee.

“An advocate for public safety on the roads, David has impressed the industry with his accomplishments,” said Brock R. Landry, co-chair of Venable’s Government Division. “From the Hill to the Administration, David is well respected and understands the often complex regulatory process from different points of view. He will play a key role in the ongoing growth of our Government Affairs, Automotive, and Technology practices.” Stuart P. Ingis, Partner-in-Charge of the Washington, DC office added, “David is a problem solver and consensus builder, both critical traits to effectively representing clients in Washington. David is a tireless advocate in everything he has done. We are thrilled to have him as part of the Venable team and I know he’ll bring the same passion and energy to our clients that he brought to his public service.”

Commenting on his move to Venable, Mr. Strickland said, “It has been an honor to focus on auto safety for the past four years, however, most of my work in public service has been on broad consumer protection policy, including FTC and CPSC issues. Venable has one of the strongest regulatory and consumer protection policy practices in America. Joining this team of extremely talented attorneys and experts to help develop cross-cutting and thoughtful solutions captures what I envisioned in a full service firm. I could not be more excited to be joining them.”

“With federal regulations impacting our daily lives in more ways than most people can imagine, Venable knows how to navigate through and how to get things done. I’m looking forward to this new challenge and bringing my experience to one of the top teams in the country,” he added.

At Venable, Mr. Strickland joins a bipartisan team of senior Washington insiders including former U.S. Senator Birch Bayh, former U.S. Secretary of Transportation James H. Burnley IV and former Congressman Bart Stupak. The team also includes former veteran Capitol Hill legislative staffers and Executive Branch policy advisors and regulators from both sides of the aisle. Venable was recently recognized by U.S. News-Best Lawyers “Best Law Firms” as a Tier 1 firm Nationally and in Washington, DC for Litigation – Regulatory Enforcement (SEC, Telecom, Energy) and Tier 1 in Washington, DC for Administrative / Regulatory Law.

Mr. Strickland earned his J.D. from Harvard Law School in 1993 and a B.S. from Northwestern University in 1990.

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Note: Venable is an American Lawyer Global 100 law firm serving clients globally. Headquartered in Washington, DC, with offices in California, Delaware, Maryland, New York and Virginia, Venable LLP lawyers and legislative advisors serve the needs of our domestic and global clients in all areas of corporate and business law, complex litigation, intellectual property, regulatory, and government affairs around the globe.”